Commentary

Stopping RB Polk is biggest key

WeAreSC's panel agrees that Saturday's game will turn on stopping UW's run game

Updated: November 10, 2011, 10:30 AM ET
By Garry Paskwietz | We Are SC

LOS ANGELES -- The Trojans have lost to Washington two years in a row on last-second field goals. What will be the key for USC to stop that trend and come away with a victory on Saturday?

What is the biggest key for the Trojans in beating the Huskies?

[+] EnlargeSteve Sarkisian
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesFormer USC assistant coach Steve Sarkisian is 2-0 against the Trojans since becoming the head coach at Washington.
Garry Paskwietz: The biggest key for the Trojans will be to continue playing with the same level of performance that we've seen from the team in recent weeks. If that happens, it stands to reason this game will turn out in USC's favor.

The Huskies are vulnerable in the secondary, and their pass defense ranks last in the Pac-12 Conference. That's not a recipe for success when you are getting ready to face a guy who just set a school record for most touchdown passes in a single game. Matt Barkley is playing at a very high level, and with the weapons at his disposal it's hard to imagine the Huskies are going to have much luck slowing him down.

Lane Kiffin needs to stick with the balanced play calling, making sure to get Curtis McNeal and the other running backs involved, and Barkley should be able to take care of the rest.

Steve Bisheff: The biggest key for the Trojans is not to let this game turn into a shootout. In order to do that, their first priority should be to slow down Chris Polk, one of the Pac-12's two best game-breaking tailbacks, along with Oregon's LaMichael James. In many ways, Polk is more versatile than James. He can run between the tackles as well as outside, and once he gets into a rhythm, he is difficult to stop.

USC's run defense has been improving steadily all season, but this might be its biggest test. Keith Price is a young, improving quarterback who can create his own problems, but if the Trojans can turn this into a passing contest, they will win.

Washington coaches Steve Sarkisian and Nick Holt know USC well, but the Huskies' defense has been raining points all year long. Either way, my advice in this game is to take the over.

Greg Katz: The key will be to stop star Washington running back Chris Polk and mount a ferocious pass rush on young U-Dub quarterback Keith Price. Last weekend, Oregon really hammered Price with a big rush. The Trojans defense can't let the Huskies get into a balanced rhythm.

On offense, the Trojans need to win time of possession. Former Trojans defensive coordinator and current Huskies DC Nick Holt said he'd rather face the USC offense than the Oregon offense, so the Trojans should be plenty motivated.

A big factor for both teams might be the forecasted showers, which means the Trojans' improved offensive line will be asked to help control the game. With the Trojans passing game such a factor, the weather could play defense on Lane Kiffin and his offense.

Garry Paskwietz | email

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